“Who would have believed that there is a lake hidden high in the Canadian Rockies
that has some of the biggest Brook Trout?” ~ Outdoor Canada Magazine.
“On more than one occasion we would be caught gazing at the splendor that surrounded us. It was fly fishing in a post card, and we had the entire lake to ourselves. Fly fishing heaven!” ~ Canadian Fly Fisher Magazine (Phil Rowley, Stillwater Author)
Genetically pure, world record strain Nipigon Coaster Brook Trout were originally stocked into Fortress Lake in the early 1930s. Fortress Lake is a very productive mountain lake, teeming with chironomids, shrimp and other invertebrates. Fisheries research shows that these brook trout put on approximately 2 pounds in their third year, hence, the majority of fish caught will typically be 3 to 6 pounds with much larger present. Few trout under 2 pounds are caught. Growth rates are exceptional as forage is heavy in given areas of the lake and water temperatures forces seasonal movement. The lake record is 11 3/4 pounds. While these are not terribly long trout, most in the 17 to 24 inch range, they grow in the shape of footballs, are very heavy, and use their weight to put on a great fight. Brookies are the only fish found here. You’ll soon see why Tv shows like Fly Nation / Fly Max Films, “Adventures North” and “The New Fly Fisher” call this the finest brook trout fishery.
“The brook trout are amongst the largest on the continent”~ Conde Nast Traveler
“This is a fishery which offers the finest brook trout fishing, challenging the legendary waters of Labrador”
~ Canadian Fly Fisher Magazine
Fortress Lake is 11km (7mi) long and averages 1.5km (1mi) wide. There is a short reach of the Wood R that we fish until the river closes Sept 1. Fortress Lake is considered amongst the world’s finest brook trout fisheries, set in a stunning, world renowned mountain location. While it is a fertile lake, it is set in a fragile ecosystem at the continental divide. Please help us to preserve this pristine wilderness location by minimizing your impact on the fishery, the lake, and the surrounding environment. We are the only commercial operators permitted on the lake, no other guide, company, or services exist or are permitted. The fishing is as good now as it has ever been – let’s keep it that way! Fortress Lake Retreat is catch & release for guests, though we periodically keep a fish to serve a trout when it’s important to guests.
“Fortress Lake is the most memorable places I’ve visited in my angling travels, and I recommend it highly for anyone seeking the opportunity to catch a trophy-sized brook trout. If the scenery doesn’t get into your blood, the big brookies will.”
~ Steve Probasco, NWFF Magazine
“There are so many fish it began to seem like an Alfred Hitchcock movie – one called The Fish” – Conde Nast Traveler magazine
The Season – we open June 1 annually as the ice tends to come out about May 25 – 27. This allows us time to set up and prepare to host you.
June – Early June is excellent for streamers, leeches, and spin fishing. Some very good sight fishing occurs in early – mid June. By the second week of June the chironomid fishing can get mind blowing. Stillwater author Phil Rowley was blown away in his many visits as he has never seen as many chironomids in a stomach pump sample as he has at Fortress Lake. The peak of chironomid fishing is the third week of June. This continues through mid July. The avalanche season rumbles through the valley all June.
July – Early July is quite good for chironomids. Mid July the water can become murky from runoff which lends itself to good streamer and spin fishing. By the end of July waters clear and nymphing, streamers, and spin fishing are quite good. Only one year of the 7 years we’ve owned the facility has murkiness had any effect on the fishing and that was for one short week.
August – Sight-fishing begins to really take shape and the fishing once again can be exceptional. Trout begin to get darker colors and show like pepper spots in the water. Dry fly fishing really picks up in the evenings with caddis, sedge, and mice patterns. Spin fishing can be exceptional. Pods of fish and fishing along structure is exceptional.
September – The lake is usually very clear and sight-fishing throughout the lake is at its peak in September. Pods of fish are strong and spotting along structure can be amazing. Dry fly fishing continues in the evening through late Sept. Some of the largest trout of the year are caught during this time. Spectacular fall colors of brook trout are at their peak.
October – Sight-fishing continues strong for fly/spin fishers. The water is gin clear and the fall colors are amazing in the autumn sun. Spawning occurs late October into November.
“The excitement of a trophy fish accelerating to pounce on your fly right before your eyes is one of fly fishing’s great addictions. Fortress Lake offers one of the most unique sight fishing opportunities I have ever experienced. Its crystal clear waters and large, co-operative brook trout make it the perfect location to test your sight fishing skills. At Fortress Lake you can sight, stalk and cast to large brookies using streamers, small nymphs and dry flies. It is captivating!” ~ Phil Rowley, Stillwater Author
We encourage you to fish how you would like. Spin fishing is likely more effective as a whole, throughout the season, though fly fishing will clean house during the chironomid season – and the optics of dry fly fishing can’t be matched. However, sight fishing with spin or fly gear is equally exciting when using a variety of tactics, gear, flies/lures that work when such clear conditions exist.
The big brookies do respond to weather changes and pressure fronts. We do suggest a longer stay as – like fishing in many wonderful locations – when the fishing turns on it is mind-blowing. Some days you have to work for success, other days it can be ridiculously marvelous. A varied set of gear and tactics are employed at locations around the lake – we’ll do our best to communicate well both before your trip in our confirmation/packing letter sent upon booking, as well as at the time of your trip. We’ll be out on the water with you to do our best for your success. Each guest will receive guiding and instruction to successfully fish our waters with semi-guided fishing. Through the years we have found that it is not necessary to have a guide with you once you learn the tactics and locations that are fishing well at the time of your trip. Everyone enjoys varying degrees of personal, quiet time and our concept is to not have a guide over your shoulder the entire trip.
For new fly fishers – our staff are very qualified & happy to teach you! Fly casting is usually picked up within 1/2 hour well enough to have a good shot at catching a brook trout. It’s a great place to learn and we’d love to introduce you to the sport!
We have 14 and 12 foot aluminum boats for you to use. Boats are used to travel to anchoring locations as anchoring and fan-casting is – by far – the most effective fishing method. Guests using power boats are required to adhere to our boat use policy and appreciate the cost of motor repair/maintenance should you drive recklessly or cause serious damage as we fly all fuel/supplies in to this remote location.